Chapter 1: “Pull over. Let me drive for awhile.” -- Frank & Leo
Leo jumps at the sound of his name being called, making an embarrassing noise he’ll deny to his last breath. “What the—”
It’s Frank, yawning and stretching. His stupid, borrowed clothes from Jason and Percy seem like they’re going to rip any second. His hair is sticking out as much as an almost-buzz-cut can. Still, he’s looking at Leo like a man with a plan.
Well, it’s always best to head up these conversations. “Frank? Wassup, my man?”
“You know it’s four am, right?”
He didn’t, actually. “Yeah, so? You should be asleep, dude.”
Frank scoffs. “ I should be asleep?”
“Um, yeah, that’s what I just said? Do you need like, celestial bronze hearing aids? ‘Cause I can make those, if you want—”
“Leo! Pull over or something. Let me drive for a while.”
“Pull over? Drive? It’s a ship, not some freaky, rusted up monster that’s thirty years older than either of us!”
“Oh my gods,” Frank complains out loud, running his hands over his face. “Does it matter?”
“Yes! This is my baby, my life, and I can’t just let you take over if you don’t understand the intricacies of—”
Frank tugs on his arms, and after a brief tussle, Frank ends up at the wheel. “I’m a descendent of Poseidon, right? It’ll be fine. Go to bed.”
Leo wants to fight it, wants to take back the wheel by any means necessary. But suddenly his limbs feel heavy, and he thinks, how long have I been up? At least forty-eight hours.
“Yeah. Yeah, okay.”
Chapter 2: “It reminded me of you.” -- Piper & Hazel
Winter in New Rome is a beautiful sight to see, with snow lightly dusting everything. The architecture, which Piper usually doesn’t care all that much about, stands out all the more. The sun sets and shines off the perfect, untouched snow on the roofs.
Piper rarely comes to Camp Jupiter, preferring Camp Half Blood even though she and Jason might have a future here, and gods above, that’s all she wants. Still, she has friends here, and the last thing she wants is to lose any more of those.
Which means coming and hanging out with Frank and Hazel, or really, just Hazel. Frank, though he wants to see her, is too busy with Praetor work. He smiled apologetically earlier, when they parted ways, and Hazel took her arm and offered to show her the city.
Piper has to admit, it’s weird, being stared at and whispered about. It’s nowhere near as bad as what Percy and Nico have described, but still. Hazel doesn’t seem to notice, pointing out different buildings and sights.
“What’s that?” Piper asks, pointing at a lovely building with an outside patio. Romans dressed in all sorts of winter gear are sitting at tables, looking perfectly at ease. Some part of Piper that’s influenced by Aphrodite, that loves beauty more than anything in the world, finds it so picturesque that she’s immediately drawn to it.
Hazel turns to where she’s pointing, a smile suddenly growing on her face. “Oh, that’s De Novo Cafe. Best cupcakes in all of New Rome.”
“We should go in, sit down,” Piper says, reaching out and grabbing Hazel’s hand. It’s freezing, just like she expects. “You’re so cold! Come on.”
Hazel doesn’t have to be dragged in, though she warns, “I forgot my denarii at home, and I’m pretty sure they don’t take drachmas….”
“Jason gave me some denarii before I came. It’ll be fine!” Piper waves a hand, then opens the door and steps inside. It’s warm, and it smells like gingerbread. She can’t help but pause and breathe in the atmosphere, Hazel doing the same thing beside her.
“Mmm,” they say at the same time.
Eventually, they have to move and find a seat. Their table is a small one in a warm corner away from the windows, and once they get there, Hazel says, “Maybe I should order for us… I don’t know how well they’ll take a Greek acting so normal here.”
Again, Piper tells her, “It’ll be fine, Hazel. We need to get used to each other.” Plus, she doesn’t say, there’s a very off chance I might end up living here sometime. So I need to get used to it, too.
She leaves Hazel at the table, going off and entering the line. Thankfully, there’s not too many people in line, and the ones who are don’t give her too many dirty looks. When she gets up the counter, she looks at the menu, her eyes immediately drawn to a hot chocolate with cinnamon sticks. It comes in a mug as golden as Hazel’s eyes. She orders two.
When she gets back to the table, Hazel smiles brightly at the treat. “Oh my gods, that’s my favorite! How did you know?”
Piper returns the smile, feeling warm and happy. “It reminded me of you.”
Chapter 3: “No, no, it’s my treat.” -- Nico & Reyna
Nico is barely awake, eyes stinging and heart beating slow, shadows clinging to him. Gods of Olympus, he’s tired, and he aches, and he wants nothing more than to sleep for the next decade. At least they’re back in America. Only a few more days of this, and then he, Reyna, and Hedge can stop and sleep.
But in the meantime, he needs to focus on other things. Like the fact that they’ve landed just outside a McDonald’s, and his stomach is clenching hungrily.
Hedge is holy uninterested in it, instead munching on a tin can he’d packed in his bag. Reyna, on the other hand, looks longingly at the golden arches.
“You hungry too?” He asks, unable to help it. Reyna is a hard nut to crack, and though they’ve been spending most of their waking moments together since they left the Argo II behind (plus all the time beforehand, when he was at Camp Jupiter), he doesn’t know much about her. Demigods at Camp Jupiter eat a lot healthier in comparison to Camp Half Blood, and he has no idea if that means they don’t eat fast food or not.
Even if she doesn’t want any McDonald’s, he decides, he’s going to get some. Because godsdammit , he’s hungry and it’s an old comfort, and he needs that right now.
Her eyes slide away. “Are you?”
“Yeah.” In fact, he kinda thinks his stomach might start eating itself soon. But he’s survived on less for longer, so he’s fine. But he still wants some McDonald’s.
She stands abruptly. Her cape flows behind her, looking as regal as any Roman emperor. “Alright. I’m—Do you want a… Happy Meal?”
Does she not know what McDonald’s serves? Huh. “Yeah, that’d be great, but… I’ll pay. I have some money.” Unless it fell out of my pocket over the Atlantic, he thinks bitterly. Patting his pockets reveals, thankfully, that he still has his wallet with him, and he hasn’t lost anything.
“That’s not necessary—”
“No, no, it’s my treat. I don’t think I could like, stand right now, but here,” he forces a few bills into her hands. “I want that Happy Meal, and a large Sprite, too. You can get whatever you want.”
Hedge snorts at that, muttering something about demigods who make no sense.
Reyna stares at the money for a moment, then up at him. It’s clear as day that she’s trying to read him, and though that’s the last thing he wants, he stays still and doesn’t look away. Eventually, she says, “...Thanks,” and walks off towards the doors of the McDonald’s.
Nico watches, thinking that she may be weird, but it doesn’t matter, not really. She's a good person to have at his back, and that's what matters. Nothing else.